NY DUI FAQ
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Every case is different and there are no guarantees.
Below are rough answers to some questions we hear frequently.
Q: Why should I fight a NY DUI charge against me?
A: The consequences of a DUI conviction, even for the lower DWAI offense, are severe. The fines are high. Your license will be suspended or revoked. Insurance rates can go through the roof. There may be other consequences. For example, having a DWAI or DWI on your record may hurt you when you apply for jobs. It can impair travel too.
We had a client who had problems getting into Canada because of a DWAI conviction. People get frustrated by the hassle and expense of the ignition interlock device. By fighting a DUI charge, you may be able to get a better result.
Q: What are the consequences of fighting?
A: For NY drivers, the biggest short-term consequence of fighting a DWI case in NY is the “prompt suspension law.” If your BAC is 0.08 or higher, the judge may suspend your license while the case is pending. For the first 30 days after that we can usually get you a “hardship privilege” that lets you drive to and from work only.
After that you can get a conditional license from the DMV that lets you do most of your regular driving.
Leisure driving is limited. And you don’t get credit for this time if you later get suspended. Out-of-state drivers are not affected outside NY by the prompt suspension. Our fees are also more expensive for fighting a DWI. Another thing we’ve noticed is that a lot of our clients get tired of the fight. It can take a long time. We’ve had cases go well over a year. It can be difficult to have that guillotine hanging over your head for so long.
Q: Will we be able to get a plea bargain?
A: In many cases we can get a first-DUI charge reduced to a DWAI violation. However, for higher BACs some prosecutors will not agree to the reduction. And if your BAC is 0.18 or above, you will probably be charged with Aggravated DWI, with the only offer a reduction to DWI, which is still a misdemeanor. Other factors also might prevent a plea bargain, such as if the charge arose out of a serious accident, if you have a criminal record, or if it is not the first DWI on your record. In such cases, we may be able to get a reduction later if we can find any weakness in the prosecution’s case.
Q: Do I need a DUI lawyer?
A: If you want to plead guilty to the charge, you do not need a lawyer. However, in many courts, we will get you a better deal than you will get for yourself. Also, we will be able to make sure the process goes smoothly, reducing or eliminating any time period where you will be unable to drive due to suspensions. Read more about this on our “Why Hire A DWI Lawyer?” page.
Q: Do I have to come to court?
A: Sometimes. Some out-of-state or out-of-area clients might not have to come to Court if we appear for you. Other than that, DUI defendants usually have to come to Court for some appearances. We have represented clients from other states and distant parts of New York State without our clients appearing. Many judges are uncomfortable with it, but so far no one has refused to allow it. We’ve even done it with a local client, where he was out of state visiting his mother in the hospital.
Q: What DUI courts do you cover?
A: We handle DUI Law across New York State. See our DWI Courts page for a list of the busier courts in the greater Albany area.
Q: Will my insurance rates go up?
A: Probably. A DUI conviction is reported on your New York driving record. If your insurance company finds out, your rates will almost certainly go up. In some cases your insurance company will drop you as a customer and you may have to enter the assigned risk pool, where rates are dramatically higher. It is possible that your insurance company will not find out, and then your rates shouldn’t go up. However, that’s optimistic. If you are from out-of-state, a New York DUI conviction will usually affect you in your home state. In our experience, reporting of DUI matters to other states is inconsistent. They are supposed to be reported through the Drivers License Compact. Some of our clients have been affected.
Q: Can we beat the charge?
A: Maybe. The police may not have had a good reason to stop your car.
They may not have had enough evidence to require a BAC test. They may have done the tests wrong.
You may have credible witnesses who can say you were not intoxicated.
You should go over the facts of your case with an experienced DUI lawyer.
In many cases the only reason not to fight is the cost of our fees.
Q: Does it make sense to fight the charge?
A: In most circumstances it makes more sense to fight the charge, especially where:
— The only offer is to plead guilty to the charge (you have nothing to lose by fighting)
— The BAC is 0.10 or below, and especially at 0.06 or 0.05 (low BACs create a number of issues)
— The BAC is 0.18 or above (the reduction from this charge is not that great, so you have little to lose)
— There was an accident, especially if someone was injured (you may get sued or charged with a more serious crime)
— There are other significant problems with the prosecution’s case
— You are licensed in another state (various reasons)
Examples of DUI cases we fight include where our client was stopped by police for running a stop sign in a parking lot,
which is not illegal; a “checkpoint” stop; a few DWAI cases where the BAC was 0.05 or 0.06 (not illegal);
a case where we had little chance but fought because the offer was terrible;
a case where our client was sitting in his car at home and hadn’t driven the car; etc.
Q: What do you charge?
A: Our fees range from $1500 to $10,000 or more. Read more on our Fees & Payment page.
Q: What’s the difference between DUI, DWI, and DWAI?
A: DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated, which is either a specific numerical BAC result of 0.08 or higher
(V&T Law Section 1192(2)), or a general notion that you’re intoxicated, proven by testimony
and other evidence of the nature of your impairment (1192(3)).
DWAI stands for Driving While Ability Impaired (1192(1)), and is generally considered to be
when the BAC result is higher than 0.05 but below 0.08, though it is actually not that simple.
New York also added a new offense early in 2007, called Aggravated DWI, which is where the BAC is 0.18 or above.
DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence, and is a general term in the US for the subject.
The term DUI is not commonly used in the legal system in New York State.
Under V&T Law 1193, first and second convictions for DWAI are violations – they are not crimes.
A third DWAI is a misdemeanor – a crime.
A first DWI is a misdemeanor, while a second DWI is a felony.
For other questions, please call us at 888-733-5299. The phone call and initial phone consultation are free.